The Fans World Cup

The Fans World Cup

“Football without fans is nothing”
– John ‘Jock’ Stein CBE

The Fans World Cup is a trophy I hope will become a feature of all World Cup Competitions in the future. It is a simple idea that can easily be extended across other sporting disciplines and eventually be developed at Continental and National levels.

Gordon Banks, Don Mullan, Archbishop Desmondd Tutu, Andrew Edwards (Artist), Pele and Terry Conroy with the Fans World

It is hoped that The Fans World Cup will be presented for the first time at the closing ceremony of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, to the fans of a participating team who are considered to have been the most sporting, friendly and respectful of the games and their hosts.

The aim is to create a trophy that fans aspire to achieve on behalf of their country and it is hoped fans from all participating nations will go to the games wishing to win it. Even if a country’s team fails to win the World Cup, The Fans World Cup would be a trophy every nation would also hope to win and it would be returned with great pride and joy to every successive winning nation.

The prototype of the trophy, designed by myself and Andrew Edwards, was presented to Archbishop Tutu, in the presence of Pelé and Gordon Banks, at the unveiling of the Gordon Banks Monument on 12 July 2008. All three were supportive of the concept, contributed their thoughts and ideas, and were happy to be photographed with the prototype as a sign of their approval and desire to see the idea progress.

The prototype is currently in Brazil and will be presented for consideration to the former FIFA President, Dr. João Havelange, in early 2011. Responding to the idea of a Fans World Cup the Football Association of Ireland commented in July 2008:

… The Football Association of Ireland believes that there is considerable merit to the proposal given the contribution that fans from many countries have made to the overall success of past World Cup tournaments.

An important dimension of the new World Cup is to harness the unrealised potential for good that fans possess and to harness this potential with a view to leaving behind in each host nation a major legacy project.

In the case of 2014, it is my hope The Fans World Cup might contribute to the establishment of an international endowment fund to benefit The Pelé Little Prince Hospital Medical Research Institute in Curitiba, Brazil, serving the biggest children’s hospital in Latin America.

I am in discussions with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Pelé about the possibility that they might draw up an aspirational list – a code of conduct – that fans would adhere to in the pursuit of winning the trophy during the 2014 Brazilian World Cup Finals.

There is a simple psychology behind the idea. Fans of the Republic of Ireland pride themselves on being the best fans in the world. When they travel abroad, therefore, to support their national team, they are conscious of the reputation they have of being respectful, good humoured, kind and sporting – win, lose or draw. They regularly leave a good impression and it is not unusual for hosts to express admiration at their behaviour or delight at the prospect of Ireland’s participation in a game because of the reputation of Irish fans. Conscious of this heritage, fans actually look out for each other and, very often, will intervene to diffuse a potentially troublesome situation.

The Fans World Cup – Prototype


The inspiration was drawn from the following sources, and in keeping with the aspirations of the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace:

(1) The 1914 Christmas Truce story – when German, French, Belgium and British soldiers crossed no-man’s land to sing carols, exchange gifts and play football during the first Christmas of World War I;

(2) A sheaf of wheat: symbol of feeding the world and the UN World Food Agency;

(3) The office of the UN special adviser to the Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace.


Gordon Banks with 3 World Cups

The base of the trophy will include stone taken from:

–    the site where the Christmas Truce football match was played in 1914, near Mesen-Ploegsteert, Belgium;
–    the football field on Robben Island, where President Nelson Mandela and his fellow prisoners played football on Saturday afternoons during their long incarceration under the apartheid regime;
–    the site of Pelé’s birthplace, Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Around the base will be coloured bands reflecting the rainbow, and calling to mind Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s hope that following the apartheid era, South Africa would emerge as a Rainbow Nation and inspire the possibility of creating a Rainbow World celebrating the rich diversity of all humanity.

The middle section is a globe, representing the Earth, around which is a circular disc on which rests a football, suggesting the universal appeal of soccer. This disc also evokes ‘other-planetary’ ideas of our vast universe.

The third section is a series of five upturned WWI Lee Enfield rifles (each representing a Continent). An upturned rifle is a symbol of ceasefire and the end of conflict. The rifles are planted into the Earth. Emerging from the rifle butts are sheaves of wheat, a symbol of sustenance and the symbol of the UN World Food Programme. Together these symbolise Disarmament and Development (Development and Peace).

The upturned rifles and sheaves of wheat support a long elegant chalice. While it appears to have a vast capacity, the bowl is modestly shallow, reminding us that the Earth’s resources are there to sustain us all, providing we only take what we really need.

When completed, the trophy will represent the UN hope of harnessing Sport for Development and Peace.

Recognising the Potential of Fans

The Fans World Cup is a simple yet powerful concept.

Soccer is a spectators sport. Those who attend the games provide the electric atmosphere that brings the game to a higher dimension. Amazingly, the governing bodies of international soccer, including FIFA, have so far concentrated exclusively on rewarding the players of the sport, and failed to see the wonderful opportunity to maximise the potential of fans.

In addition to the World Cup, presented to the winning team, there are six other awards presented at the World Cup Finals: (1) The Adidas Golden Boot – awarded to the top goal scorer (2) The Adidas Golden Ball – for best player (3) The Yashin Award – for best goalkeeper (4) The FIFA Fair Play Award – for the most sporting team (5) The Most entertaining team and (6) The Best Young Player. In addition, there is the MasterCard All-Star Team, comprising the best players of the tournament in their respective positions.

The important role of fans has yet to be properly recognised. The Fans World Cup will change this.

Global Viewing Figures – FACTS!

The FIFA World Cup Finals are the most-watched sports event in history.

The FIFA World Cup Finals is the greatest sports event in the world, with over 140 countries competing for a place in the final 32 slots.

Television coverage of the 2006 games was the most extensive ever.

–    376 channels aired the event compared to 232 in 2002
–    There were 43,500 broadcasts across 214 counties and territories
–    This amounted to a total coverage of 73,072 hours
o    an increase of 76% on 2002 games (41,435 hours)
o    an 148% increase on the 1998 games.
–    If the 2006 coverage were shown on just one channel, it would take over eight years to broadcast non-stop!
–    A staggering 26.29 billion cumulative viewers watched the 2006 tournament, making it the most-watched sports event in history.

Viewers are growing in both established and new markets. For example, the cumulative audience in Brazil increased from 1.35 billion in 2002 to 1.72 billion in 2006 (+27.8%) despite the fact that Brazil won the competition in 2002 and were knocked out in the quarter final stages in 2006. The cumulative audience in North America and the Caribbean was 829.1 million – representing a 76.8% increase over the 2002 total.

Source:, 6 February 2007

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